A cluster of coronavirus infections detected at one construction site in the Helsinki metropolitan area by the construction company Lehto Group has resulted in exposure of at least 38 people.
These individuals have been quarantined on Tuesday morning in addition to those infected. Three of those infected are Finns, seven are Estonians, one is an Iraqi and one is a Kosovar.
This is what Kaarle Törrönen, the company's human resources director, told Taloussanomat.
Ilta-Sanomat reported on Monday about a large cluster of infections found at a construction site. A total of 12 coronavirus infections have been found in the last two weeks.
According to Hus' Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (Hus), it explains a significant part of Helsinki's new coronavirus infections.
More information from the construction company about Helsinki's large corona cluster: 11 foreign workers from the sick - “There must be a discussion on how to continue the work”
Wider infestation was found at the construction site - HUS's Järvinen: Explains a significant part of Helsinki's new corona infections
The number of people exposed at the site during the morning has been specified at just under 40, which have been quarantined by Hus's infectious disease doctor.
One of the infections was Lehto Group's own employee, 11 others have been identified from subcontractors in a total of four different companies. Törrönen does not say on which construction site the infections were detected. He also does not know whether there are more mildly or severely ill people among them.
All those exposed have been employees of the construction site, both Lehto and subcontractors.
- The site is under the guidance of the Helsinki Epidemiology Unit. The site staff has now been tested and the next testing is in two weeks.
The site is currently operating at about one-third capacity, due to difficulties with quarantine, summer vacations, and subcontractors ’access to labor.
The risks of infection at construction sites and the cramped living conditions of construction workers temporarily coming to Finland have been discussed throughout the spring. In addition to Lehto Group, infections were detected this week in the dormitories of nine construction workers from abroad in Turku.
Törrönen says that he recognizes the challenges related to housing and quarantine, but does not know how to avoid how the risks of infection in housing are avoided and quarantines are carried out in that case when the responsibility for them lies with subcontractors.
According to Törrönen, the situation is very unfortunate for the company, as according to him, very strict guidelines have been followed at the company's construction sites since mid-March.
- Despite the fact that the rest of society went down to lift the restrictions, we have not lifted them at the construction sites.
Staff meals and breaks are staggered, changing room use is limited, branch visits are kept to a minimum, meetings are held almost entirely remotely. There are safety gaps and hand washes, hand bottles, he lists.
- From the beginning, occupational safety and health has been drummed, and of course it is very unfortunate that such a situation arises. The aim is to keep the construction sites as a kind of bubble so that interaction with the rest of the environment is kept to a minimum. Of course, we cannot intervene in what happens outside working hours.
Törrönen cannot assess why, despite all the safety measures, the infections are plaguing the construction industry and how the situation should be remedied. The risks of infection seem to be related to accommodation. He says that there is a discussion about the methods of subcontracting and the risk that employees coming to Finland pose, but “from the point of view of the main contractor, the situation is a challenge”.